The PR company for Story Land Theme Park in New Hampshire contacted me about food allergies and, well, theme parks.
It seems they are very allergen-friendly at the park, which is excellent news!
Through the publicist, Story Land's food coordinator, Charles Selmi, proffered some tips about how to stay safe and have fun whilst visiting any theme park, especially Story Land in New Hampshire.
Charles “Bud” Selmi is the Foods Coordinator at Story Land children’s theme park in Glen, NH. Bud is a certified chef through the American Culinary Federation, a certified instructor of the ServSafe® program of the National Restaurant Association, NH Chef of the Year 1999, and proprietor of Sizzlin’ Sauces hot sauce company.
Chef Bud’s Six Tips for Safe and Fun Family Eating at Theme Parks
-Keep your guard up. You’re the expert on your family’s needs. Even the best-intentioned and most accommodating food service providers will not have the background and knowledge to avoid every potential allergy. And as in any public place, there’s no telling what others may have left behind when touching hand rails, table tops, or other common areas.
-Do your research in advance. While there are some basic food items you’ll find at just about any park, menus can vary widely, as can types of cooking oils and other important variables. Online, through e-mail, or on the phone find out what foods are available at the park. Some parks (Story Land was one of the first beginning several years ago) will post a menu and ingredient listing on their web site to help in planning your dining options before you visit.
-Bring your medications. Even if you’d rather not carry them around while on amusement rides, keep them in a locker or in the car ONLY if you’ll have an appropriate amount of time to retrieve them in case of an emergency. Upon special request, (Story Land has been known to store medications requiring refrigeration in behind-the-scenes refrigerators with restricted access). First aid personnel may not have any sort of allergy medication on hand, or the clearance to administer it.
-Bring your own food. Some parks allow picnic lunches or snacks to be brought into the park, and knowing you have something that is definitely safe to eat will help make the day enjoyable. You’ll still be able to buy a little something extra that you can’t easily make or bring from home. Even some parks that prohibit bringing in food as a matter of policy may make an exception for medical needs. Some parks will also allow you to head out to the car to eat, and then return to the park without an additional fee (be sure to ask about the return policy before exiting).
-Speak up and ask. Cross contamination can occur when different food items are prepared in or on the same cooking equipment. And although management may be sensitive to the issue, it’s the front line kitchen staff that needs to deliver. When ordering, ask if there are other foods being fried in the same oil as the item you plan to order, and it’s definitely okay to ask servers to change gloves before gathering and serving your order.
-Use your judgment. If you can find the allergy information you need from the park, chances are you’ll be able to have a relaxed and enjoyable visit there. Conversely, if your research and inquiries are met with indifference and insensitivity, there may be cause for extra diligence during what should be a fun day for all.
Great tips Chef Bud--thank you Story Land!